Digital | ON: TECH

Little AI things for life adjustments

by Chiho Komoriya

Avoiding a beer bust

Summer is here and, as beer gardens open up throughout Japan, the drinking season approaches. Now may be a good time to keep an eye on personal alcohol consumption, just to make sure you don’t over-do it.

Development company Stuff, and Toshiba Memory, Toshiba’s flash memory product company, have released Tispy2, a handheld gadget designed to measure the alcohol content of your breath and even offer advice on your consumption.

Just breathe on its receptor sensor to get a reading, which is then logged as part of your personal drinking data. It’s equipped with a Wi-Fi-enabled SD memory card, so information on drinking habits can be accessed via a smartphone or tablet. The more the Tispy2 is used, the more personalized advice it can give via its LED display. This includes reminders, such as times when you should drink more water, as well as observations, like a gentle warning when you’re knocking back a few glasses particularly fast. There is also a guest mode, should you want to spot-check your companion’s alcohol level, and it supports Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.

Powered by two AAA batteries, and compatible with rechargeable batteries, the Tispy2 looks a little like a perfume bottle and can be reserved on the crowdfunding site Makuake from ¥13,500.

Clearly more people are becoming health-conscious about their drinking habits since the Tispy2 has already raised three times its original Makuake goal.

www.makuake.com/project/tispy2 (Japanese only)

Hitting the books

Sharing photos on social networking services is virtually a part of everyday life now. But some people still love to flick through a physical album of photos. No surprise then that there are plenty of apps that allow users to access their photos and create files that can be printed as photo books.

Truth is, however, most people can’t be bothered to select photos from the hundreds or thousands that they have taken on their smart devices, many of which are likely to be very similar, just to create a photobook.

Cheetah, a subsidiary of leading photo supplies company Kitamura Holdings, which already offered a photobook creation service called Sarah, has now released Sarah.AI, an app that takes all the hassle out of creating an album.

Sarah.AI has three main functions: best shot, auto grouping and collection. Best shot selects images using face recognition and image quality analysis technology, removing out-of-focus shots and duplications, and adjusting the layout of pages accordingly. Auto grouping collates images into stories or events by date and location, and even suggests a title for each grouping. Collection organizes photos in these groupings and offers automatic layouts for the photobook. This is all done offline to protect privacy, with just the final product being sent to print.

Sarah.AI allows users one free 14-by-14-centimeter 24-page photobook per month (not including shipping fee) and charges ¥25 per two extra pages (up to 96 pages). It’s currently available for Android, with an iOS version coming out later this month.

sarah-book.jp/pages/ai (Japanese only)

Listen to the good news

Admittedly, the Livio AI hearing aid is not made by a Japanese company, but with the nation’s rapidly aging population, the device is such an innovation, its Japan release on June 17 is worth mentioning.

Manufactured by the U.S. company Starkey, the Livio AI is the ultimate hearing aid that does so much more. Used with a Thrive Hearing Control app, it has speech-enhancement and background noise-control technology, and can be adjusted via a smart phone to personal preferences. It also uses geotagging to allow users to program it to automatically adjust at specific locations.

More unusual, however, is that since the Livio AI is connected to a smart phone, it can also use Thrive to monitor a user’s health. Not only does it keep track of physical activity, but it also logs the amount of time the hearing aids are used, how often the user engages in conversation and the different locations in which they are used — all related to activities considered important stimulation for the brain.

Last, but not least, the Livio AI can act as wireless headphones and, using the Thrive translation tool, it can offer real-time translation in 27 languages, including Japanese.

The only downside is its current price — from ¥630,000, it’s not exactly something for everyone.

www.starkeyjp.com (Japanese), www.starkey.com (English)